FREE CONSULTATIONS & WE'RE AVAILABLE 24/7

Dec 23, 2018

Why you need a criminal defense lawyer instead of a public defender

Each year in the United States, millions of people are arrested and charged with crimes that potentially carry jail or prison time. The vast majority of those arrested are below or near the poverty line, making it difficult to afford legal counsel for their defense. Most of these individuals will end up either defending themselves in court or have a public defender appointed to their case. 

But even though it may be tempting to avoid the higher cost of hiring a private defense attorney, there are strong reasons to hire one. Hiring a competent defense lawyer can give defendants a big edge in court, often making the difference between going to jail and walking free. 

Public defenders as attorneys of last resort

Nationwide, studies have shown that up to 85 percent of all defendants charged in criminal cases rely on public defenders. In practice, this means that public defenders are often saddled with stifling caseloads. And they may only have a few minutes to dedicate to a client’s entire case

By contrast, a private defense attorney will often only be handling a few cases at a time. Private attorneys often have research assistants, expert witnesses and other professionals who they can call on to help with their cases. This translates into dozens or even hundreds of hours of experienced professionals working on a case, giving the defendant their best shot at beating the case outright or discouraging the prosecution from aggressively pushing ahead with hard-to-prove charges. Often, the mere perception by the prosecution of the defendant having a strong legal defense team on their side may be enough to bring serious leverage to the table, helping to secure plea deals for much lesser charges. Prosecutors know that someone who is being represented by a severely overworked public defender is unlikely to be able to mount a strong defense at trial. And this will often lead to a much-weakened bargaining position in the event of a plea deal. 

Getting what you pay for

The main problem for most people with hiring a private defense lawyer is cost. Especially where the defendant may be facing serious jail or prison time, hiring a strong defense team may cost thousands of dollars or more. But this will often turn out to be money well spent. There’s no way to put a price on freedom. And it’s impossible to earn anything at all while locked up in prison or jail, making the few thousand for a successful defense a bargain. 

Because public defenders cost little or nothing, they are the option that the vast majority of defendants choose. But this ensures that they rarely have anything close to the time, energy or dedication to invest in any one case that a private attorney brings. Public defenders are also appointed. This means that if a defendant is assigned a public defender with whom they don’t get along, it may be difficult or impossible to have a new defender assigned to their case. When hiring a private attorney, the defendant has complete control over who they ultimately select to represent them. And it is usually possible to switch attorneys if a defendant is dissatisfied with their current lawyer. 

Incentives matter

Finally, while most public defenders go into their chosen field with great ambition and the intention of doing good, the harsh realities of handling thousands of cases each year in the U.S. justice system often leave them overworked and somewhat jaded. One of the most common complaints that defendants have about public defenders is that they just don’t seem to care enough about the people they represent. This apparent indifference is, in part, because they are government employees who will have a job whether they win or lose. 

A competent private defense attorney, on the other hand, is usually highly invested in the outcome of the cases they handle. All said, the best reason to hire a private attorney is because they are there to win.

Request Free Consultation

Testimonials

Request Free Consultation

Please fill out the form below to receive a free consultation, we will respond to your inquiry within 24-hours guaranteed.

Manhattan

85 Broad Street, 30th Floor
New York, NY 10005

Queens

35-37 36th St,
Astoria, NY 11106

Brooklyn

195 Montague St.
14th Floor,
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Manhattan

85 Broad Street, 30th Floor
New York, NY 10005

Phone

888-977-6335

Queens

35-37 36th St,
Astoria, NY 11106

Phone

888-977-6335

Brooklyn

195 Montague St.
14th Floor,
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Phone

888-977-6335